Alpaca fiber is the base for several of our products, beginning with our Paca Pet Pouf. The Original Pouf is 18" by 24" and 24-25 ounces of fiber in it. Our Fetch! dog balls and our Fuzz/Fetch Balls also require varying quantities of the fiber, so by the end of the year, it really starts to add up.
I work with one or two farms in Virginia and/or Maryland each year to help them harvest their fiber. Shearing season in the Mid-Atlantic is typically April and early May. The farms hire professional shearers to come to give the alpacas their annual haircut. There are usually one to three helpers with a shearer, depending upon the size of the team.
My job is usually to "noodle" the fleece blanket (the part that is the "saddle" area on the animal) as it comes off the alpaca, which means to lay it flat on a sheet of plastic, then roll it as tight as I can into a "jelly roll" so that it can be stored until it's ready for sorting. It's much easier to sort fiber that's noodled since you can tell where on the alpaca the fiber came from and it's not jumbled with other fiber.
I usually end up coming home with a few bags of fiber, seconds and thirds (this is what comes off the neck, legs, belly and chest) so I can restock my store for the year's worth of Paca Pet Poufs and toys.